How to Say ‘NO’

By Alice Carter Jones

“I have to wash my hair” – How to say no to that unwanted date invitation


Like most single women, I’ve had my fair share of men asking me out. Not because I’m particularly nice or attractive, but because I insist on unknowingly flirting with men who I’m not remotely attracted to, who then immediately form the wrong idea and ask me out. You can bet on it that the men I actually like NEVER ask me out. Because of this unfortunate situation, I find myself having to think on the spot on how to reject the poor innocent man I have subjected to false flirtation with, in a way that doesn’t hurt his feelings. For some reason unknown to me (and probably the world’s greatest psychologists), I am unable to reject a date invitation with a ‘normal’ excuse. My excuses have been somewhat more exotic than the usual, ranging from ‘I’m travelling to Africa in one week to live amongst the Zulu Tribe’, to a deal stopping ‘I’m a lesbian’. Let me tell you, these are not advisable excuses to use. But let’s face it, we’ve all done it. So what is the best way to say no without breaking his heart? Here are the pros and cons of some of the most commonly used excuses…

Excuse number one: “I see you as more of a friend than a boyfriend”

This might be a great way of letting him know you’d like to keep him as a friend, but bear in mind these were never his intentions. The minute you started talking and being, ahem, “friendly”, he saw it as a come on, and you saw him as the guy you could treat as a girlfriend, who would walk you home after you had one drink too many, and who wouldn’t judge you for the way you look the morning after. Alternatively, he had you down as the girl of his dreams. Ultimately any friendship that has built up between the two of you will most likely be ruined due to his crushed ego. This can be mended, however, by explaining that what you really need right now more than a boyfriend, is a friend.

Excuse number two: “I have a boyfriend”

Georgia, ‘Bitstream Charter’, There is a time and a place for this excuse. By all means use this if you are in a club or bar and you’re trying to get someone off your back (sometimes literally). But whatever you do if you remotely know him through a friend, through work, or any other means then do NOT use this tactic. In one particularly nasty case, a guy actually interrogated me about my imaginary ‘boyfriend’. After my impressive description of my ‘boyfriends’ job, music likes and dislikes, and appearance (even I was sold), he finally said ‘Is that why your best friend just told me you are single and have been for the past year?’ Needless to say I was speechless and he was annoyed. If worst comes to worst then use the trusty ‘I’ve just started dating someone’ line. This way if he asks your friends or colleagues about it, you can edge your way out by saying they hadn’t been informed of your newly found crush just yet…

Excuse number three: “I’ve just come out of a long term relationship and I’m not ready to date just yet”

This is my tried and trusted, fail safe excuse. Time and time again, it has saved me from awkward dating situations. I’ve even used it after a date, passing it off as a ‘realisation’ that I just wasn’t ready to open my heart to someone yet or at the very least until he would stop doing annoying Gollum impressions: funny the first time, not after four hours. Sadly this technique isn’t always the answer, especially if you have told him previously that you haven’t dated or been in a relationship for the past year, which can cause a few raised eyebrows.

Excuse number four: “I’m sorry I just don’t see you in that way, but you are totally gorgeous, lovely, intelligent, amazing and would make any woman happy”

This is an excellent example of over-egging the pudding. Why on earth wouldn’t you go out with the guy if he’s that amazing? He will be sure to catch on that you don’t think he’s amazing because clearly you are rejecting him. The key to this is not to be too flattered when someone asks you out. You’ll appear to feel sorry for him, and there is nothing more offensive to a man than a woman who pities him for asking her out, you might as well laugh in his face.

Excuse number five: “I don’t fancy you, but my friend over there does!”

The old brush him off on to your mate line; worked a charm when you were ten, now it just appears immature and is somewhat offensive to your pal. The only time this is acceptable is if your friend really does find the man in question attractive AND doesn’t mind him knowing it.

It seems the best way to say no is to be honest yet considerate of his feelings. Now if only I could apply that to my own rejection trauma’s…


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